US Attorney Drops Charges Against Indigenous Water Protectors and Allies Who Occupied Bureau of Indian Affairs Demanding Indigenous Rights Be Upheld.
Washington, D.C. – The United States Attorney’s office has decided to not charge 33 Indigenous water protectors and their allies who were arrested while peacefully occupying the Bureau of Indian Affairs lobby in the US Department of Affairs building on October 14th, 2021. This was the first time since the 1972’s Trail of Broken Treaties that Indigenous leaders occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Indigenous leaders were met with extreme violence from the police leaving one Indigenous woman with a broken hand, others were hit with batons, two people were tazed and an Indigenous media reporter was assaulted with an officer kneeling on his neck and had his equipment damaged by the police during the attack on peaceful water protectors.
Water protectors occupied the building demanding the abolition of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the US government honor the treaties including the restoration of 110 million acres (450,000 km2) of land taken away from Native Nations, Indigenous children buried at residential schools be returned to their tribal nations, no new leases for oil and gas or extractive industry on public lands, the US government establish a policy of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, restoration of terminated rights.
The occupation followed a week of historic Indigenous resistance in Washington D.C that started on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, where “Expect Us” was written on the Andrew Jackson statue outside of the White House ahead of 130 Indigenous leaders and allies being arrested outside of the White House on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Despite a proclamation declaring October 11th Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Indigenous leaders were met with police violence and LRAD was used on Indigenous matriarchs and youth being arrested on the White House fence. This was followed by two Water Protectors demanding Biden Stop Line 3 climbing the flagpole outside the Army Corp North Atlantic Division Office, replacing it with a “Free Informed and Prior Consent” flag that read “Consultation is not Consent.” The day after the occupation Native youth from various fights were arrested out of the U.S Capital blocking the street. Indigenous water protectors were in town participating in a larger People Vs. Fossil Fuels week of action in which over 600 people were arrested outside of the White House demanding Biden declare a climate emergency.
Under attack from these fossil fuel projects, Indigenous peoples are fighting back: and winning. A recent report by the Indigenous Environmental Network and Oil Change International showed how over the last decade Indigenous resistance has stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least one-quarter of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions. By blocking at least 26 major fossil fuel projects, these Indigenous leaders and water protectors have stopped projects equivalent to 400 new coal-fired power plants, or roughly 345 million new passenger vehicles.